News for Sunday 2nd October: Harvest Thanksgiving

News from St Mary the Virgin, Kenton on Saturday 1st and Sunday 2nd October 2022: Harvest Thankgiving

Dear friends,

Although not strictly a feast of the Church's year, our annual Harvest Festival is nevertheless a well-established and well-loved occasion in the calendar at St Mary's, when we give thanks to God for His many blessings – especially for the food we eat – at the same time as praying for those who help produce our food, and reaching out in love to those who would otherwise go hungry. Accordingly, and as usual, please bring to this weekend's Masses your gifts for distribution by Harrow Foodbank, whose September shopping list includes tinned vegetables, sponge puddings and tinned custard, pasta, coffee, household items (toilet roll, soap powder and washing-up liquid) and toiletries (toothbrushes, toothpaste and shampoo). The Foodbank reports ample stocks of baked beans, tinned soup, cereal and tinned tuna – these items are therefore not urgently required.

Outside of a rural context, in many parishes the Harvest Festival emphasis is indeed less on the fruits of the earth than on a charitable collection for the hungry. Many of us are very fortunate to enjoy the sort of material prosperity which means we are at Harvest time more likely to give than to receive – but this should not obscure the important theme of gratitude within this celebration.

Gratitude is a fundamental Christian attitude: 1 John 4.19 explains that 'We love [others] because [God] first loved us' – our acts of loving service are made in gratitude for God's love towards us. Gratitude is a way of “paying forward” the debt of gratitude we owe to God – by loving those in need, in His Name. As one Christian writer has explained it, 'If we owe a debt of obligation to God because of his gift-giving, then we pay it forward rather than paying it back, by giving to others without demanding anything in return.'

So let our ambition be always to cultivate an attitude of gratitude, which should underpin our daily life.

Finally, advance notice that we will be coming together to celebrate our secondary patron, St Leonard, on Sunday, 6th November at 6pm. This Mass will replace the 10.30am Mass on that Sunday. There will be a party afterwards, and all are welcome: in particular, why not invite someone whom you haven't seen at Mass in a while, or who might be considering joining the Church?

With my love and prayers,

Fr Richard

In many ways, our Harvest Thanksgiving is summed up in the Entrance Antiphon for this Sunday (rarely used, as it is often replaced with a hymn as the altar party enters). “Within your will, O Lord, all things are established, and there is none that can resist your will. For you have made all things, the heaven and the earth, and all that is held within the circle of heaven; you are the Lord of all.” This Sunday, in particular, we give thanks for all that God has given us. Not just our food – but our families, our friendships, our skills and talents, this church dedicated to Our Lady … and ourselves. He created us, and we are created in his image to do his work here on earth, following the example of his Son, Jesus Christ.

We are pleased to welcome back Stanmore Choral Society this weekend, who are offering their “Come and Sing” Concert. If you have yearned to sing Faure's Requiem or Franck's Panis Angelicus, you are warmly invited to take part. More details at stanmore-choral.org.uk/ There may be some minor changes to the 'location' of services in church on Saturday as a consequence.

Fr Jason at St Andrew's Kingsbury has invited us to Evensong with re-dedication of the Church bells on Sunday, 16th October 2022 at 4.30pm with The Schola Cantorum of St. Matthew’s, Kensington Olympia. Preacher: The Rt Revd Graeme Knowles CVO followed by a reception. All are welcome.

Of course, it was lovely to see Fr Jason, along with so many other guests, at Fr Richard's Induction and Collation on Friday. The church was full … and so were our stomachs with a veritable “feast” provided by the Social Committee and the team who demonstrated the depth and warmth of our typical welcome afterwards. A huge thank you to all who contributed in any way to the Mass and the Reception. We are most grateful.

“We are merely servants: we have done no more than our duty.”

David Griffiths